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LAST MODIFIED ON: 12/03/2018 - 16:08
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Programmes for vulnerable young people
All of the strategies to reduce social inequality in Wales have an emphasis on supporting vulnerable young people. The education and youth justice systems both have a central role in fostering social inclusion as does the youth strategy. There are also a number of cultural programmes which focus on inclusion.
Equality and Inclusion Grant Programme
The Welsh Government launched its Equality and Inclusion Funding Programme 2017-2020 in September 2017. It contributes to the Welsh Government’s commitment to equality and human rights. The Programme consists of an Equality Grant for representative organisations, and Inclusion Projects Contracts for specific areas of work, and grant funding for Disability Wales organisation. These organisations work specifically with young people at risk of exclusion, disadvantage or discrimination.
The Equality Grant provides funding for third sector organisations to support their work with disadvantaged groups and communities across Wales. Thus, the organisation must represent equality for race, gender, or gender reassignment and sexual orientation (LGBT+). Successful applicants for funding include the Women’s Equality Network, Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team, and Stonewall Cymru.
The Inclusion Projects provides funding to organisations that help facilitate social inclusion of particular groups in Wales, specifically Gypsy, Roma and Travellers, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Funding has been awarded to the following projects: All Wales Hate Crime Report and Support Centre by Victim Support; Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Advice and Advocacy Service by Tros Gynnal Plant through Travelling Ahead, and National Support Services for Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants by the Welsh Refugee Council.
Youth justice system
The Youth Justice Board oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales; it is a non-departmental public body which was created by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Its principal aim is to prevent offending.
The youth justice system in England and Wales is made up of a network of organisations that work together to administer justice and support children and young people. This network consists of:
- youth offending teams (YOTs), which are multi-disciplinary teams which work young people that get in trouble with the law
- local partnerships made up of partners from the police, probation, local authority children’s services and health services
- the police and the Crown Prosecution Service
- the courts and the judiciary
- secure accommodation providers.
There are various prevention programmes that work to keep young people, especially those who are vulnerable, away from crime. They are run within local communities, and can involve parents and families.
Participation is voluntary, and only begins once the young person in question and their parents or carers have confirmed they understand and agree to what will be expected of them. This is set out in an Intervention Plan. Many programmes are run by the council’s local youth offending team or by other local organisations, such as youth charities.
Two of the main programmes are:
- Youth inclusion programmes (YIPs) for 8- to 17-year-olds comprising activity-based social inclusion projects, which usually last for about six months
- Youth inclusion and support panels (YISP), which work with 8- to 13-year-olds to make sure they get access to local services that will help them stay out of trouble. Services can include extra help at school and access to appropriate medical treatment, or treatment for mental health problems.
There are also programmes which pair young people who are at risk with a mentor. The mentor can guide and support in areas which may be sources of difficulty and concern for a young person, for example their progress at school, relations with their peers (including experience of bullying) and the transition from compulsory education to employment or further learning. Arranging for a young person to have access to a mentor can sometimes be more effective than sending them to join a group activity. A mentoring programme doesn’t usually have a set time limit: a young person can be mentored for as long as is helpful, though the mentor will usually encourage the young person to set objectives and targets, which will determine the overall duration of the mentoring relationship. Mentors are not connected to the police or a school.
Usually, parents and families will be involved in helping a young person on a crime prevention programme. This could mean anything from attending classes with their child, to just making sure the young person does what they are asked. Parents may also be given the opportunity to participate in a parenting programme.
In September 2015, a review of the youth justice system was announced. It examined evidence on what works to prevent youth crime and rehabilitate young offenders, and how this is applied in practice; how the youth justice system can most effectively interact with wider services for children and young people; and whether the current delivery models and governance arrangements remain fit for purpose and achieve value for money. The final report was published in December 2016 with the main recommendations improving the youth justice system falling under five key themes: more devolution in the system; improving young people's contact with the system; improving the experience of children appearing in court; improving the security of the schools attended by young offenders; and establishing new structures within Central Government to oversee the youth justice system.
A number of programmes also focus on eliminating barriers to social participation in culture: the Welsh Government recognises the power of the arts, heritage and culture in promoting social justice. These programmes are intended to have wide coverage, benefiting everyone in disadvantaged communities. However, they also specifically mention the importance of engaging vulnerable children and young people. A key initiative is the Fusion Programme, aimed at eliminating barriers to cultural participation, tackling poverty through culture and skill building, engagement, self-esteem and aspiration. The Welsh Government has led Fusion since 2015, in partnership with the cultural and heritage sector. Following the successful pilot phase, it subsequently launched a 2-year Fusion Challenge Grants programme in 2017 to embed the programme. Eight partnerships are delivering strategic programmes using culture to support employability, empowerment, early years and family learning, and health and wellbeing – for those most in need. The programme report Fusion - Creating Opportunities through Culture - Delivery in 2018-19, outlines the eight initiatives.
For inclusive programmes and initiatives in education and training, see the article on ‘Social inclusion through education and training’.
Please see each programme outlined above.
Evaluation reporting takes place for the Fusion programme. Key findings from the pilot phase evaluation include:
- cultural organisations are targeting activities more effectively at people experiencing poverty
- organisations are collaborating more effectively to deliver within disadvantaged communities
- individuals experiencing poverty in their communities were accessing cultural activities more as a result of the Fusion programme.